About Us

Our mission

Deeply ingrained systemic racism. Extraordinarily long sentences. No parole or mid-sentence review. These are just some of the factors that contribute to mass incarceration in Illinois.

The prison system makes no room for compassion, nor is there recognition within the criminal legal system that people change or grow. By creating many ways into the prison but almost no way out, Illinois’ criminal legal system has wrought extraordinary moral and fiscal costs for individuals and communities. At the Illinois Prison Project, we fight against regressive policies, racist practices, and a system that treats people as disposable with a mission focused on hope, compassion, and humanity.

Through advocacy, public education, and direct representation of thousands of needlessly incarcerated people, we bring hope to and fight in community with incarcerated people and their loved ones for a brighter, more humane, more just system for us all.

Our work

Direct representation

With a constant focus on release from prison, we provide direct representation to people in the Illinois Department of Corrections, train and support attorneys who provide direct representation, and empower incarcerated people and their families to advocate for themselves.

Education

Through its education work, led by formerly incarcerated people, IPP spreads awareness to community members, policy makers, and officials about the harms and racial injustice wrought by the criminal legal system and mass incarceration.

Advocacy & Policy

Through our advocacy work, we partner with other organizations to fight for short, medium, and long-term expansions of decarcerative policies and  mechanisms.

Our Principles

No one is their worst act

A firm belief in the power of rehabilitation is central to meaningful criminal justice reform. We are all human, and humans make mistakes.  We evolve and we grow.  We improve, we learn, and we change our minds.  That means people in prison, but it also means lawyers, judges, witness, law enforcement officers, politicians, and victims.  Just as no one is defined by their worst act, no one is a prisoner to an old belief, a historical decision, or a past deed.

No one is beyond mercy or redemption

Our principles apply to all people, no matter the offense of conviction.  We do not endorse policies that categorically exclude people from reform efforts based on their history, including offense of conviction.

Our criminal legal system is rooted in racism

Strategies to reform the criminal legal system must center Black and Brown voices and must explicitly acknowledge the role racism plays in the legal system’s history and ongoing operation.

Everyone’s voice matters

Common sense and effective criminal justice reform will require input directly impacted people and their families.  It will also require input from crime victims and law enforcement officers, as well as lawyers, judges, and policymakers.

Who we are

Staff

Team

Ambassadors

Steering Committee